Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Is nano business nanotechnology? 'Irrelevant '

Dean Takahashi, in his Mercury News report on Nano-Tex, does something that I haven't seen in most other general-interest "nanopants" stories. He drives directly to the scene of the collision: the crossroads of nanobusiness and nanoscience. He does it in just four concise paragraphs. Pay special attention to the last one.

    On the other hand, some would argue that Nano-Tex's brand of nanotechnology, which assembles a tiny but simple structure at the nanometer scale but doesn't create any complex devices at that level, isn't really nanotechnology.

    "It's really just better chemistry,'' said Robert Morris, director of the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose. "It doesn't mean that nanocomputers are just around the corner.''

    Nano-Care inventor David Soane counters that Nano-Tex really has created a nanotechnology product because the company designed its chemicals to assemble themselves into precise structures on a molecular level. "There really is an art to it,'' said Soane, who serves as Nano-Tex's chairman.

    On a business level, it's irrelevant whether Nano-Care is "true'' nanotechnology. In just a couple of years, Nano-Tex has licensed Nano-Care to about 50 apparel companies. Sprayed onto jeans, it is the stuff that makes clothes sold by Levi's, Eddie Bauer, Gap and Old Navy stain-resistant."


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